Grubs & Goodies: Accepting Bad with Good

Standing in my kitchen shucking corn I recalled childhood memories of racing through cornfields, selecting sweet prizes of gold, carting them home for grandma to prepare.  To this Kansas farm girl, nothing shouts “CELEBRATE SUMMER” to my taste buds quite like home-grown, hand-picked, freshly roasted corn on the cob.  Just imagining roastin’ ears dripping in sweet butter running down my elbows causes my chops to slobber like a teething baby.

 My drool quickly dried up at the sight of an oversized grub worm just beneath corn silk.  Nasty looking critter.  Covered in slime, shiny white with a jelly looking head chomping away on my corn.

 Fortunately, I’ve enough experience with sweet corn to know the little bugger doesn’t eat much.  Grubs, as disgusting and unsavory as they are, don’t affect the good stuff further down-cob.  I lopped off the tip, cooked up the remainder and minutes later savored sweet flavors nature intended.

 I could have discarded the entire roastin’ ear and shucked a new one.  I might have cursed the corn along with its occupant, let it ruin my dinner or perhaps my whole evening.  Ridiculous?  Of course, it is.  This was a minor grub on an otherwise delicious ear of goodness.

 So why is it I have enough sense to accept a little bad mixed with a lot of good in nature but I can’t seem to allow for it in me?  In other words, what’s up with feeling I must ooze perfection 24/7 or I’m no good at all?

 I struggle with messages in Scripture appearing contradictory about who I am.  How do I reconcile, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made…and my soul knows it very well.” {Psalm 139:14 KJB, Cambridge Edition}, with “for he knows how we are formed and he remembers that we are dust…” {Psalm 103:14, NIV}?

 Which is it?  Am I wonderful? Or am I dust?  In simpler terms, am I good or am I bad?  The answer is, “YES!”  Good and bad exist side by side in all humans.  Denying that truth invites a split in our hearts, a lifetime of internal conflict as good and bad war against each other.

 If, like corn-cobs, at first glance I see worms in myself, I might be tempted to discount all value I have to offer.  But dig a little deeper, peel back the silk covering worms hide behind and I’ll discover a gift of goodness worms cannot destroy. 

 The truth is, in this flesh no one is either all good or all bad.  I can choose to hide “bad me”, cover it up with silky things like ministry, hard work, education, position, smooth words.  I can smother it with this world’s slime of addictions & fun fixes.  Or I can admit to battling worms of imperfections, alive and thriving. 

 I wasn’t born perfect.  I’ll never be perfect in this life.  Refusal to accept my imperfections, weaknesses and brokenness sets me on a pedestal of self-absorption & vanity above other mere mortals.  When I fall from my pedestal, I hit hard.  The house of mirrors I crafted to represent “good me” lies shattered in pieces and I’m left devastated, paralyzed at the sight, feeling there is nothing left but “bad me” exposed for all to see.

 In time, my natural remedy is to pick up bigger chunks of brokenness, piece them back together, try harder to exemplify good me.  Christians are notorious for this.  When we mess up we pray harder, memorize Scriptures, go to church every time doors are open, serve in multiple ministries.  If all else fails we throw a fat check in an offering plate.  Viola! Ideal me finds daylight again.

 But ideal me” isn’t “real me”Real me doesn’t need to strive harder for perfection.  Real me needs grace and acceptance.  I must realize because I live in an earthly body, I WILL screw up.  But my temporary failures don’t define me as a total failure any more than a minor grub ruins an entire ear of corn. 

 Because of Christ in me, I am wonderfulWith that assurance, I can learn from my mistakes, failures and imperfections.  Rather than tell myself “I’m worthless…” or venture in search of distractions and more corn silk to hide behind, I’m able to appreciate my strengths without exploiting them and I work honestly on changing things in me that aren’t strong. 

 In accepting bad me along with good me, I open up Real me. The more honest I am about my imperfections, the healthier…and braver…Real me becomes. I begin to forgive myself for not being perfect, to love myself in spite of my worminess, to taste goodness in my deeper parts, to delight in the delicious flavors of who I am instead of focusing on my grubs.